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Monthly Archives: May 2017

  1. The true importance of true customer service

    How many times have you heard that saying, “The customer is always right.” Or how about, service does more than just serve guests, it is the building blocks that keep customers coming back. This being said if you want more customers you better train your food service professionals and you better make sure that your managers stay focus on the quality of service being executed on a day to day basis.

    The fear of giving subpar service should truly make you worry, it is a growing concern industrywide and the weakness of giving poor service can lead even the nations top brands into the ground. It has become vital to hold your managers accountable on focusing on service standards that will lead to better sales and customer retention.

    Restaurants reporting high turnover rates typically are sadly the ones that give poor service. The reason for this is that staff members are typically not in the establishment long enough to create strong client relationships. On the contrary the top-performing brands are less likely to receive negative service scores on all social media platforms. There are fewer complaints pertaining service, food and/management.

    Too many times as owners we will blame poor service on the market being over saturated with new restaurants, the lack of adequate service professionals or even the tremendous lack of customers on the recession. It is fact that the hospitality industry has been week for years since 2008 and even though the industry has generated positive sales through higher prices, traffic has declined. Customers demand only the highest level of service, rightfully so, the nations average check has climbed 13.5% in the past four years and guests not only demand but, deserve the best!

    It is a key performance indicator that top-performing brands are more likely to have top online review scores. Top brands make service their top priority and consistently train both managers and hourly employees alike. Owners know that it is important not to turn over their managers and keep them happy, well trained and prioritize listening to them if and when something in the restaurant needs reevaluation. Remember your management is your defense line between you and customers, they are the people you should trust and invest in the most!

    To the last point, as owners, you should always be looking into new service techniques, new programs to enhance your service professionals knowledge base and continuously look for the top notch hospital professionals in your area.

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  2. The Importance of Safety Equipment for Restaurants


    An establishment such as a restaurant typically has a high amount of foot traffic. Between employees and customers, there are many people in one place at one time. While safety is an important element for all types of buildings, there are specific pieces of equipment that are especially important for restaurants.

    A busy kitchen is one of the main reasons restaurants should have a large focus on safety. Some of the items restaurant owners should have in their kitchens include kitchen hood fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lights, exhaust fans, thermostats, and fire and smoke detectors.

    Along with this equipment, also reccomends preventative maintenance and staff training. While having the right equipment is half of the battle, the other half of the battle is maintaining, having backups, and having a properly trained staff who is aware of the establishment’s safety plan.

    As for emergency lights, owners should look for ones that live up to these standards:

    • Highly visible illumination
    • Long LED lighting lifespan
    • Able to withstand damp locations
    • Flame rated thermoplastic

    LED lighting overall is a benefit for restaurants, and not just for safety purposes. They’re eco-friendly, cost-efficient, 100% recyclable, free of toxic chemicals, and durable.

    Along with being aware of the importance of restaurant safety equipment, it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations, including the ones specific to youth workers. Being that a restaurant position can be a popular first job among youths, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), laid out guidelines that relate to restaurant equipment. For example, “child labor laws do not permit workers younger than 18 to operate, set up, adjust, clean, oil, or repair power-driven equipment such as meat slicers or bakery mixers.”

    Health-related hazards are another concern for restaurants. There is always a need for washing equipment, refrigeration units, ice machines, preperation tables, freezers, and grills. This may depend on what type of food items are on the menu, but this list can apply to the most basic establishments. In order to prevent bacteria from spreading, tables, work stations and utensils must be sanitized and food items need to remain at their recommended temperatures. If not, both customers and employees are at risk of foodborne illnesses.

    While many of the most important matters are covered above, it’s still advised to review all of the laws and regulations for your specific establishment and state. At the same time, you should implement standards. The standards can include dress code, cleanliness, customer service, and so on. This way, your restaurant will contain everything it needs to be considered a safe, healthy and successful environment.

    Author: Frank Capasso of Valley Lighting & Home Decor.

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  3. Think Outside the Burger - New Fast Casual Restaurant Concepts to Try

    Falafel and fresh vegetables in pita bread on wooden table

    Fast casual food is fun, easy, and done correctly - a great money maker with potential for multiple locations. Burgers and fries have dominated the fast casual scene, along with pizza, for decades, but there's no reason not to branch outside of these well known concepts when looking for your inspiration. Give your customers something new to taste, and talk about - with something a little different than your average burger/fries/milkshake menu.

    Falafel - a beloved staple of the Middle East, falafel is simple street food, consisting of fried chickpeas and sauce wrapped in pita. Simple to execute and delicious, falafel is growing in popularity and would make a great anchor for a fast casual restaurant. Add vine stuffed grape leaves, hummus platters, and gyro to your menu to round it out.

    Ramen - we've talked about ramen before, and we will talk about ramen again. This hot new concept - literally - is sweeping the US, and with good reason. Ramen is almost universally liked, simple to execute, and cost effective. Different toppings to your bowls brings your concept to life. Create a fun, quirky brand identity which honors the Japanese roots of this concept, and watch your sales skyrocket.

    Poke bowls - ramen's new, cool, Western cousin, the poke bowl is Hawaii's answer to sushi, and has the advantage of being very health conscious as well as colorful and attractive. As you're dealing with raw fish, make sure you have the kitchen skills, knives, and prep space to execute this dish safely and accurately, and also advertise that they are gluten free and low fat, yet flavorful - a rare find in fast food.

    Donuts and chicken - this idea won't stand up to the health food test, but it certainly is tasty. A twist on chickens and waffles, donuts and fried chicken is a simple, cartable, and fun restaurant menu idea. This sort of concept may work better in a big city where people want and look for more variety in their offerings, but as both donuts and fried chicken and liked by, again, just about everybody, chances are you'll hit a home run with this fun combo.

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  4. Let's Brunch! Tips to take your Brunch to the next level

    Avocado poached egg

    Sunday, funday. For most Americans, Sunday is a day of leisure and that means that they are looking to go out and enjoy the day with friends and family. So give them some solid brunch options so they come to your establishment while they are out and looking to spend so they come and spend with you. Brunch is a wildly popular meal option with younger people, and it's a 'trendy' thing to do. Plus, mimosas are pretty much standard, which means your customer sale is going to be higher than it will be for your average lunch service. In addition to mimosas, here are some food and drink options and general tips to really up your brunch game:

    Bloody Mary bar. Other than mimosas, the Bloody Mary is the king of brunch drinks. Give your guests some fun options when you allow them to create their own Bloody Mary for a fixed cost with whatever toppings they choose. Different peppers, bacon garnishes, raw bar - get creative and watch your customers have fun with the most fun meal of the week. Plus, the cost per drink for a Bloody Mary bar can be higher than a regular Bloody Mary.

    Mimosas. Again, brunch and mimosas go hand in hand. But you can have fun creating different mimosa options with fresh squeezed juice, different types of sparkling wine and champagne, or even mimosa pitchers for large tables. Don't be afraid to put some other fun cocktails on your menu too - Corpse Reviver, Espresso Martini - there are some great standard "breakfast" cocktail options out there. Consider offering 1/2 price on a certain type of liquor - tequila for instance - during brunch to encourage more day drinking and more liquor sales for you.

    Food wise, it's good to have breakfast and lunch options: sweet and savory options. Pancakes and french toast, eggs benedict, panini, breakfast pizza, steak and eggs... offering a mix of options allows guests to choose exactly what they want. Buffet style brunch is more dated and less appealing than a regular a la carte menu. A killer burger, with an egg on it, will also be appreciated.

    In terms of marketing, have fun with your brunch. Make sure to advertise it doing the week, on social media, and get the 'word of mouth' out there in a fun way. For entertainment, having a live DJ during your brunch hours can help create a fun, hip party atmosphere that will appeal to the young people who are your core brunch audience. Live jazz creates a higher end vibe and is also a great, appealing option.

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  5. The Top 5 Restaurant Digital Marketing Trends in 2017

    The Top 5 Restaurant Digital Marketing Trends in 2017
    In 2017, restaurants will engage in more digital marketing and advertising initiatives than ever before. If your restaurant doesn’t follow suit, you could be missing out on a prime opportunity to reach new and existing customers. From posting enticing food photos on Instagram to spending ad dollars on local search ads through Google, the restaurant industry is embracing the world of digital marketing. Below are the top 5 restaurant digital marketing trends your business should be aware of. The Top 5 Restaurant Digital Marketing Trends in 2017 1. Sponsored Social Media Posts Rise Up In 2017, sponsored social media posts overtook community/event sponsorship as the most popular form as restaurant advertising. Overall, there was a 20% increase in restaurants advertising on social media compared to historical numbers. 2. Facebook Remains Social Media Queen 73% of restaurants named Facebook as their most-used social media channel, distantly followed by Instagram at 18%. These findings also revealed only 4% of restaurants do not use social media. 3. Ad Spend Isn’t Stopping 84% of restaurants will either spend the same or more on advertising in 2017. Additionally, the number of restaurants who intend to spend no money on advertising decreased by 25% in 2017. 4. The Surge of Search Engine Ads Search engine advertisements on sites like Google and Bing dethroned direct mail advertisement to become the 4th most popular choice of restaurant advertising. These online ads saw an increase in usage of 36% in 2017, while direct mail saw a 6% drop in popularity. 5. Snapchat Slow to Grow Only 16% of restaurants are currently using Snapchat for their business, with no restaurants in the survey naming it their preferred social media channel. YouTube will be the most newly-adopted social media channel in 2017, with 27% of restaurants intending to start using the site this year. Article courtesy of Toast Blog . As always shop for all your restaurant needs.
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  6. The Best Slice of Summer

    The Best Slice of Summer
    As another heat wave follows us this week, it is hard to imagine anything other than a sandy beach, cool ocean air and a cold drink in hand. Waking up and getting ready for work seems like a daunting task, knowing that then probability of needing a shower by noon is 1000% and the idea or notion of being in the kitchen preparing a meal is as horrible as being sent to work at Hells Kitchen. Fear not friends, when it comes to summertime cooking you can find plenty of options, which do not include a flame, and actually use one main succulent fruit, watermelon. Now, technically watermelon is a botanical berry called a pepo, none the less this year has produced some of the best in years. It has become hard to stop dreaming about the delectable fruit that is full of flavor, cool and refreshing. This being said, some of my personal favorite recipes to prepare this summer have been simple, fun and able to minimize the time you spend in the kitchen. The following are 2 quick and easy recipes that I know you will absolutely fall in love with. 1- Watermelon Salad with Mind and Crispy Prosciutto INGREDIENTS 4ounces thinly sliced prosciutto 3pounds watermelon (including rind) 6radishes, quartered 4scallions, sliced 1/4cup fresh mint, torn 1/4cup salted peanuts, chopped 2tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil kosher salt and pepper Directions Heat oven to 400° F. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Trim and discard the rind from the watermelon. Cut the flesh into 1/4-inch-thick triangles. Place the watermelon in serving dishes and sprinkle with the radishes, scallions, mint, and peanuts. Drizzle with the lime juice and oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Break the prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle over the salad before serving. 2. Watermelon and Machego with Arugula Pesto Ingredients For the Pesto 2 bunches fresh arugula (not pre-washed from a bag), rinsed very well and patted dry 1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered 1 small handful coarsely chopped walnuts 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste For the salad 3 1/2-inch thick round slices of a large whole watermelon 2 thick slices Spanish manchego cheese, about 1/4 pound total Directions Combine the arugula, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and half the olive oil in a blender. Pulse lightly until incorporated, then drizzle in olive oil and continue to pulse until blended but not completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. Trim the edges off the watermelon slices to make squares. Cut two thick slices of cheese to fit the watermelon squares if using a wedge, otherwise swap steps 2 and 3 and trim watermelon to fit the pre-sliced cheese. Plate as follows: watermelon, manchego, pesto, repeat. Smear a little extra pesto on the plate before serving. As always shop for all your restaurant needs!
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  7. 12 Ways to Maximize Table Turnover in Your Restaurant

    Whenever we are talking about maximizing table turnover, I need to start the conversation with a disclaimer.  Sometimes, speeding up the amount of time your guests occupy a seat is not your best option. 

    For example: if your restaurant isn't on a wait, then you will likely want to keep your guests happy and try to offer them another drink or dessert. You also have to be careful and consider the long term effect of rushing customers out, whether directly or indirectly.

    But as any restaurant employee will say, when you need to turn a table, you need to turn a table over.

    I recently spoke with Toast's Social Media Coordinator Cassy Lee, who has several years' worth of restaurant experience. “My boss always told me to be like a ninja on the floor. You are here to enhance a guest experience - not be the experience,” she said.

    Cassy used to serve in some of Boston’s finest restaurants. She also goes on to explain that her first thought was always, "How can I maximize our chances of getting this person back into our restaurant again?" This thought always trumps maximizing per-person average or table turnover.

    But if you need an ace in the hole during the busiest shift of your career, check out these 11 tips for how to maximize table turnover in your restaurant.

    1. Establish Your Guests' Timeline Before They Sit Down 

    I always want to ask my guests a very simple question before they sit down, or if your restaurant is a bit more casual, this can happen immediately upon seating them.

    The question is simple “What brings you folks in today?” 

    table turn

    It’s important to know if they are in a hurry or not. If they are, then speed up using many of the tips below. If they are not in a hurry and want to enjoy their experience, be careful to move them along to quickly. 

    2. If You Have a Wait, Don’t Seat Incomplete Parties

    Service and guest experience are always first and foremost, so if you do not have a wait, please do not keep incomplete parties standing at the door while they are waiting.

    However, if you are on a wait and slammed, this is totally acceptable.

    3. Ask Them to Leave

    That’s right, ask that table that is just camping out to leave - just be tactful in your approach. 

    If you have a bar or lounge that is available instead, offer to set them up a table and then walk them over. Hand them off to the new bartender or cocktail server and remind them how much you enjoyed taking care of them. 

    If the situation is really bad and the table does not want to leave, offer to buy then dessert or drink in the bar. Depending on your restaurant's level of service and guests expectations, this not as uncomfortable as it sounds. If your restaurant is more casual, be honest - let them know that you have a long wait of other guests that would love their table. 

    Again, be tactful and polite, but most of the time your guests just get lost in their own world and understand that you need the table - they just lost track of time. In a fine dining establishment, I often feel that just the offer of a drink or a table in the bar is sufficient.

    4. Suggest Items That the Kitchen Can Prepare Quickly

    To move guests out more naturally, keep in mind that guests will often order suggestions when they are properly described.  Make sure servers suggest one or two items that the kitchen can prepare quickly and that diners always love. If a guest is torn between an entree-sized Greek salad or a well-done steak, the suggestion should be clear.

    table turnover

    5. Limit the Amount of Steps

    One of the biggest slow downs to service is taking two trips to do what could have been done in one. 

    For example, don’t come to the table and introduce yourself empty handed. Bring your bread basket and water pitcher so you can kill three birds with one trip. This signals to your patrons that the next time the server approaches them it should be time to order.

    Way to shave 5-10 minutes off the service time!

    6. Have Certain Items Prepared in Advance

    Filling a ramekin with ranch dressing does not seem like it takes much time, but every time it happens, the minutes will add up. In this case, you are spending time during service doing a task that could have been done ahead of time. 

    Get as much as possible prepared ahead of time without sacrificing quality. Fill ramekins with popular sauces and dressing, prepare certain garnishes in advance, prepare water or iced tea pitchers in advance. You can even go so far as to have certain menu items partially prepared in advance as long as it does not effect quality.

    turn tables faster7. Bring Them the Check

    Again, be careful here. 

    The check is definitely a cue to your guest that you are done with them, but if they are having a great time, you don’t want to cut their evening short and risk them deciding to enjoy a date at your neighboring restaurant next time. 

    If you have offered dessert and they've declined, I think it's completely acceptable to bring the check and remind guests the check is all set. You can even have their check ready to present when you offer dessert, and if they say no, then present it. 

    If there's no rush, politely remind them it's there for them whenever they are ready.

    8. Utilize Efficient Restaurant Technology

    Nothing is more frustrating to a restaurant manager than seeing a line of servers in front of the terminal waiting to close out a check. This stalls up the time it takes to turn tables and keeps everyone waiting longer than they should be.

    Some restaurant POS systems can actually increase table turn time exponentially faster than legacy systems. This efficiency is enhanced even further with pay-at-the-table mobile tech, which save servers from all those tedious trips to and from the terminal.

    You can also maximize table turnover with these design elements. 

    1. Music

    Louder music with a faster, upbeat rhythm will encourage guests to eat faster.

    2. Colors

    Brighter restaurant colors that are closer to primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) are more stimulating than warm soft tones and will inhibit your guests from relaxing as much. 

    3. Seating

    Comfortable booths and big soft chairs will keep guests seated longer. Balance comfort with your need to turn tables. Also, seating guests in the interior of your restaurant will encourage them to eat faster and speed up their meal.

    4. Limit Menu Options

    Large menus will slow down service for three reasons. 

    • First, that added complexity will create longer ticket times in the kitchen. 
    • Second, your guests will have a harder time making decisions. 
    • Third, your guests are often less satisfied when their options are endless then they are with limited options.  

    This is known as the Paradox of Choice. It causes guests to compare their choice to the other options. If they ordered the black and bleu burger but were considering the brunch burger - even if the b&b burger was fantastic - part of their brain is always going to wonder if they other would have been better. 

    Don't give them the opportunity to face that dilemma.

    What's Next?

    Its most important that you find balance between quality of service, satisfied guests, per-person average check size, and table turns. Ultimately, the purpose of running a restaurant is to maximize profits. It's up to you to determine what combination of speed and revenue per guest leads to the most satisfied guests with the most profits. 

    Don’t be afraid to test. Try something you have never tried before. Just be sure to measure your results so you know if its helping you reach your goals.

    Article courtesy of Toast 

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  8. Planning a Seasonal Menu for Late Summer/Early Fall

    Planning a Seasonal Menu for Late Summer/Early Fall

    It’s a wonderful time of year for seasonal menu offerings.  Across the country, farms are bursting with fresh, local produce.  It’s cheap - it’s readily available, and it belongs on your menu!  Offering your customers fresh, seasonal and - when possible - local and organic produce - will ensure that your menu tastes great and is eco conscious and trendy also.  When vegetables are super fresh, they don’t need much treatment or seasonal.  Local corn is sweet and ripe just as it is and is great as a side or a soup or garnish for steak dishes.  

    Bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, artichoke, and arugula are all also in season, so now is a great time to add a large entree salad to your dinner menu.  Lots of local vegetables will provide beautiful texture and flavor, and by including different protein options, you can create something which is versatile for both meat eaters and vegetarians - and also gluten free - to appeal to virtually every dietary restriction.

    Another oft overlooked vegetable which is fast gaining popularity is kohlrabi.  Nutrient dense and with a juicy, appealing texture, kohlrabi makes a great slaw accompaniment to fresh fish for a light, healthy summer meal.  Kohlrabi leaves are also excellent sautéed in olive oil or animal fat.

    Last but not least - dessert!  Don’t neglect fresh fruits when planning your produce purchases.  Apricots, blackberries, blueberries, figs, lemons, limes, nectarines - all are currently ripe and ready to be baked into pies, put in parfaits, blended into fresh ice cream, or enjoyed with just a touch of fresh whipped cream. 

    As always, shop for all your restaurant needs!

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